App Launch Marketing Series: Understanding The App Marketplace & Competing With the Big Players

app marketplace

Why mobile and app strategy is essential

Whether you’re a funded start-up looking to launch an innovative product and disrupt the status quo, or an established business trying to enter a new market, understanding ‘why’ you do something is essential. Once the ‘why’ has been solved, you can begin to align goals across the business and establish a clear and concise strategy. There are plenty of things that will help to inform your mobile strategy and, importantly, these will have a fundamental impact on your product, branding and marketing elements.

How to win in the app marketplace

Understanding the marketplace your app is launching in is crucial to developing a successful app. It helps you to understand your potential customers and market conditions and it helps you to plan for any potential obstacles. It’s also worth bearing in mind that iOS and Android are both entirely different marketplaces with different products, different user behaviour and their own quirks that need to be addressed. It can seem like releasing an app onto both platforms is a no-brainer due to the huge increase in reach, however, it will require a large time-sacrifice to ensure your app product and strategy is effective across both platforms.

Finding the right ground to do battle on is key as you will be fighting for users from apps that that are in the same place. Establishing the category your app will be competing in on the app store can be a headache, as many apps will blur the lines between multiple categories. In order to execute an effective app marketplace analysis there must be a focus. With a defined category, you can begin to identify sub-categories within this where apps cater toward subtle differences in user requirements. For example, the photography category will have apps catering toward photo editing, lens filters or even photo sharing apps. By narrowing your categorisation, you can build a picture of your closest competitors which will be helpful for the detailed competitor analysis later.

You also need to have a clear picture of market health before you launch your app. You don’t want to launch a second-hand exchange app to find out the reselling market has been in decline for the last 12 months. Simple metrics such as install volume and daily active users can help you understand the general market health. You don’t want to be competing with multiple apps in a sector that is shrinking.  

For a clearer picture of how the market is performing it can be useful to put together a marketplace funnel. This will help you understand differences in engagement levels between apps in your category and others, but also provides a benchmark for when your app launches. A generalised funnel may be:

Install -> Register -> In-App Action.

You should be able to source all the information you need from free reports offered by marketing and analytics tools, usually available to download as a PDF. For example, if you’re looking to launch in the dating space, this Dating Apps Report will have valuable insight into the key players in the space.

The app’s success will rely on you understanding your users, and the more you know before launch, the better. This may involve scouring through competitor reviews to understand what users like, what they dislike and what they think could be improved. You should also consider including surveys or simply asking friends and family for their opinions – but beware, you may get a positively distorted opinion from people you know.

Using as many sources as possible will allow you to put together an unbiased picture of how your app can provide value. Once you’ve got a broad picture of your app marketplace and its users, it’s time to dig deeper into your closest competitors.

What are your mobile and app competitors doing?

An in-depth competitor analysis will be vital to understand how the key players in the space are performing and to identify opportunities within the market. There are numerous tools available including AppAnnie, Sensor Tower, Apptopia and Priori Data – these generally require a subscription – that will allow you to deep-dive into competitor data such as app ranking, install volume and review stats.

“The app market is a super competitive environment where a whole range of factors determine whether apps win or lose. App owners are competing against other apps, user apathy, seasonality, advertising costs and the app stores’ own policies around app rankings and featured apps. It definitely pays to be well informed on what the market is doing and understanding what users want.” – Simon Gannon, Marketing Director at Priori Data

However, if you’re on a budget, you can also rely on your investigative skills.

As previously mentioned, app reviews will be a great source of knowledge. You’ll be able to identify what users are complaining about, common bugs within the apps, what users like and also what users would like to have. All of this offers a huge opportunity to get a head-start at launch that your competitors didn’t have. Considering the importance of ASO, it’s also vital to have an idea of how competitor apps are utilising it and how effective they are. This includes assessing the main description, screenshots, app review and feedback management and even the app name. It all contributes to app discoverability and ranking, and you need to get a clear picture of the strategies that are working for your competitors.

Lastly, it’s a good idea to download and get familiar with as many of your competitors as possible. You want to know how the apps work, if they have any additional features and even get a feel for their tone of voice. Things such as onboarding, social sharing and mCRM are also vital to user retention and LTV and getting to know competitor apps are a great start to building out your own strategy. Get a feel for what they are doing well and what they are doing poorly.  It’s important to remember that you don’t want to develop a copy of a competitor app, it’s all about leveraging gaps in the market, doing things better than your competitors and positioning your app for success.

Time to establish your KPIs

Once the app marketplace and competitor analysis have been completed, you should have a clear picture of what your app will be offering and where your app will be sitting in the market. It’s now vital to identify the key performance indicators, specific to your app, that will serve as a measure of your app’s success. KPI’s can change over time, so it’s important to identify metrics that will most contribute towards your current goals, whether that be to generate an active userbase, to facilitate a certain number of transactions or to publish quality content. These indicators will be different across all categories, so use what you’ve learnt about your market to identify indicators that truly measure value for your app.

It should be clear that research is key when developing a successful strategy. Nothing can guarantee success for your app, but you can certainly maximise your chances when armed with knowledge of the market, your target users and your competitors. When you do see the installs coming through, you’re going to want to make sure your monetisation strategy is sound and you’re not letting money slip through your fingers. Make sure to catch our next blog for our advice and best practises.

Here’s what you can expect from the rest of our series:

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Want to find out more about optimising your app and keeping up with the latest OS capabilities? Make sure to subscribe to our Mastering Mobile Marketing video series. You can also get in touch by visiting the Contact Us page. Follow us on LinkedIn, chat with us on Twitter @yodelmobile, and join our #mobilemarketingUK LinkedIn group

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